Human Resources

Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the questions about the industrial action and Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) taking place in February and March 2023.

Will members of staff get paid whilst on strike?

No. Strike action, as a matter of law, involves a breach of an individual’s contract. Consequently, if you decide to take part in strike action, you will not be entitled to your contractual pay for the strike days. Pay will be withheld at the rate of 1/365 of annual salary for each day of action, pro rata for part-time staff, and adjustments to pay will be made in the December payroll.

You should declare the days you were on strike using the University’s electronic declaration form. This can be completed at intervals throughout the period of action or altogether at the end. Any days declared by 5pm on the payroll cut-off date (for past or future dates) will be deducted in that pay month. The payroll cut-off days are as follows:

February            Friday 10 February

March                Friday 10 March

April                   Wednesday 12 April

May                    Friday 12 May

The final deadline by which all days must be declared is 5pm on Friday 12 May 2023

What is ASOS and what form will it take?

ASOS stands for Action Short of a Strike and commenced onWednesday 23 November 2022. UCU have decared that ASOS could include:

  • only working to contract
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities
  • not covering for absent colleagues
  • removing uploaded materials related and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action
  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action.
Will members of staff still get paid if they participate in ASOS?

At present, the University does not plan to deduct pay for those participating in ASOS. However, the University does not accept partial performance, and reserves the right to review this decision and withhold pay at a rate of up to 100% for ASOS.

How will we know who is striking? 

UCU members at the University of Sussex have a lawful mandate for action. UCU members who wish to join the strike action are not obliged to tell us in advance if they intend to take industrial action, but they are required subsequently to inform us they have taken strike action via the declaration form so that appropriate deductions can be made from pay. Please see "Will members of staff get paid whilst on strike" above for details of when deductions will be made

How is the University supporting staff during the cost of living crisis?

We recognise that pay is at the forefront of everyone’s minds in these financially challenging times, and in response to the cost of living crisis, the University has provided a support package for staff and students amounting to £6.6m.

Do I have to notify the University if I have taken strike action?

Yes, you do. You must notify your line manager/ Head of School / Director. You must also complete the University’s electronic declaration form.

If I’m a member of teaching staff, do I need to let my students know I’m taking strike action?

We would ask that all staff who intend to take strike action cancel classes in advance on Sussex Direct or via an announcement on your Canvas module.

Are part-time members of staff required to notify about strike action in the same way?

Yes, part-time staff are required to notify the University in the same way as full-time members of staff, making a declaration for each day of strike action. Payroll will be aware of employees’ varying contracts and will work with Heads of School and Divisional Directors to clarify any issues prior to pay being deducted.

What is the impact for members of other unions and non-union staff?

Only UCU secured a mandate for lawful strike action so members of other recognised University unions at UoS should work normally. Members of staff who are not a member of any union (‘non-union members’) also have a legal right to strike if they wish to. Any member of staff who participates in strike action must ensure that they complete the electronic self-declaration form so that appropriate deductions can be made for each day that they do not work.

What will be the impact on our students?

The University recognises that the strike action and ASOS will be disruptive. However, our aim is to minimise any disruption and in so far as it is possible to avoid any detriment arising to the education of our students.

Will the University remain open as normal during the strike action?

Yes. The University will operate as normally as possible.

Can annual leave be taken during the strike or as an alternative to going on strike?

Annual leave must not be used as a substitute for participating in industrial action. Any annual leave that has already been approved and booked on scheduled strike days will be honoured. However, no further annual leave will be permitted for any member of staff on the scheduled strike days to enable planning for any potential disruption to take place except in exceptional circumstances.

I am not taking strike action and I usually work on campus on the days when strike action is planned. Can I choose to work from home?

If you usually work from home on a day that the strike action is to take place, then you can do so as normal. If you do not usually work from home on a day that the strike action is to take place and you wish to do so, you should seek and gain prior approval from your manager. Your Head of School / Director may have to consider the overall situation and the need to provide a level of campus presence on strike days in order to provide face-to-face information and support to students, so the option of working from home should not be assumed. If a member of staff decides not to work normally, as agreed with their line manager, wherever their working location may be, this should be declared as participation in strike action via notification to their line manager / Head of School / Director and on the electronic declaration form. Managers may ask colleagues to clarify if they have participated in strike action or if they are unclear about an individual’s status on a strike day.

What will be the impact on pension of any strike action?

Members of staff will not be entitled to their contractual pay for strike days. The University will maintain employer pension contributions during strike days. Death in service benefits will also be maintained.

What will happen to flexible benefits for those that participate in industrial action and see an impact on their contractual pay?

Deductions to any flexible benefits will continue as normal.

What is the position for Doctoral, School or Associate Tutors who do not participate in the industrial action? What are they expected to do if the lectures get cancelled as a result of the strike?

The Head of School should work to minimise any disruption to teaching. This can include allocating suitable alternative work.

What steps is the University taking to continue communications with staff?

The University will continue to provide information to all staff via the University web site and email. These FAQs will also be reviewed regularly and added to as questions are raised.

Are non-striking members of staff expected to cover teaching which has been cancelled due to strike action?

To minimise the impact that this action may have on our students’ welfare and their academic progress, duties may be reallocated amongst available staff, as required. Managers must also ensure that any redistribution of work is done in a fair and equitable way.

Can staff be required to work additional hours during the strike action as a direct consequence of the industrial action - how will they be compensated?

Industrial action may require some staff to take on additional duties. Where the duties are clearly additional and not part of the normal expected role, existing policies will apply. In summary, these are that additional hours for staff in grades 1-6 may be addressed first by time off in lieu or overtime for hours worked in excess of normal full-time hours. Payment of any overtime must be agreed in advance and should only occur if TOIL is not viable.

What is the position on crossing an official picket line?

Picket lines are permitted by law (recommended limit per picket line is 6) and must operate peacefully. They may not inhibit or obstruct free movement. You are entitled to come to work normally, and the picket line must not obstruct you from doing so. The University recognises that a period of industrial action is difficult for everyone involved. The University is committed to maintaining safety and well-being of all its staff in this period. We hope that all involved will act at all times with respect in both words and action. However, if you choose not to cross the picket line and have not agreed with your manager that you will work from home (and are not absent from work for an authorised reason), you will be deemed to have participated in the strike and will be expected to complete a strike declaration form, which will result in a deduction from pay.

Can others (non UCU members) join an official picket line?

The law on picketing is clear that it can only be undertaken by a worker employed by the University, a worker who has lost their job for a reason connected to the dispute or if they are a union official picketing with members they personally represent.

Will trains and buses be running as normal?

Buses will be travelling to the University throughout the UCU industrial action.

We expect that buses will not enter campus between 6.30am and 3pm on UCU strike days. Between 6.30am and 3pm (in other words, in the mornings and until early afternoon) buses are likely to stop just outside campus on the A27 slip road and then near Falmer Station.

Check Brighton & Hove buses for service updates. We suggest you allow more time than usual to get to campus by bus.

Trains are due to run as normal on UCU strike days unless there are planned train strikes. See Southern’s website for more information about planned train strikes which may affect your journey. 

Will there be an accessible minibus?

A wheelchair-accessible minibus will be provided on strike days between 9.30am and 3.30pm.

The minibus will largely use the campus bus stops and will travel around the campus every 30 minutes. Check a map of the route [PDF 592KB].

The bus is free and can be used by anyone with access needs. Please show a sunflower/red lanyard, Helping Hand card or similar if your disability is less obvious.

If you have a disability and your access to campus is disrupted, find out how to contact Disability Advice and get more information.

If you are unable to get to campus using the above transport arrangements due to your disability, we can arrange a return taxi journey from your home to campus. Call 01273 075700 between 10am and 3pm.

What if I have a question which isn't covered in the FAQs above?

Email your query to

Information for Tier 2 and 5 visa holders

For staff on Tier 2/Skilled worker and Tier 5 visas, do periods of unpaid work, whilst participating in industrial action, count as exceptions under the rules for unpaid leave?

Yes, unpaid leave is permitted where it is part of legally organised industrial action. Any unpaid leave which is due to participating in industrial action will not be counted towards the usual maximum four weeks permitted unpaid leave per calendar year.

Even though (as detailed below) the University is required to report to UKVI (UK Visa and Immigration) any significant change in salary arising from participation in industrial action, the University is not required to stop sponsoring you as a result of this.

Will deduction from salary for industrial action participation and ASOS require reporting to UKVI?

Yes, if it amounts to significant changes to your salary from that stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). However, please note we are not required to stop sponsoring you as a result of a significant change in salary arising from your participation in industrial action.

If you have a Tier 2/Skilled Worker or Tier 5 visa, we advise you to familiarise yourself with both your CoS and the salary thresholds that relate to your SOC code. If you require further information about this, please contact Bethany King in the HR Compliance team.

What are the University’s usual reporting obligations in respect of Tier 2/Skilled Worker and Tier 5 visa holders?

The University has reporting obligations with UKVI for staff on Tier 2/Skilled Worker and Tier 5 visas. These cover instances of non-attendance, non-compliance with visa or immigration conditions, disappearance or significant changes in circumstances. Reporting by the University must happen within 10 working days of occurring, so that the appropriate action may be taken.

As a reminder the University must report a) any absence from work without pay that is 4 weeks or more, unless such absence is covered by an exception detailed in paragraph S4.13 of the guidance published by the Home Office; b) any absence from work that is 10 or more consecutive working days without permission, and; c) a significant change in circumstances including, for example, a change in salary from that which is stated on the CoS guidance (para S4.14).